Each week, daily fantasy (DFS) golf players check the DraftKings lobby to see that week’s PGA Tour games, scrutinize the pricing model and try to predict lineups which will perform best in both guaranteed prize pool (GPP) events and cash games.
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2018 Sony Open in Hawaii preview
The 2018 PGA Tour calendar continues the Hawaii Swing this week at the Sony Open in Hawaii, the second of two events on Hawaii to kick off the new year. Justin Thomas is defending champion here, becoming one of the rare players to shoot a sub-60 round in a PGA Tour event and then go on to win it (it’s about a 50-50 proposition of winning). Jordan Spieth is the other big headliner in the field, playing in this event for the second year in a row.
Waialae Country Club in Honolulu plays host to the Allenby Classic, and it’s a Golden Age design where players can take it deep. The course isn’t long at all by PGA Tour standards, but the green complexes are relatively small and there are spots where players can get in trouble in tropical forest (jungle). Generally speaking, this turns into a 125-and-in contest. Lots of players will be hitting predominantly wedges into these greens, and then they’re going to be looking to make shorter-than-normal putts to get the win.
As I pointed out on Twitter yesterday, this is an example of how low-scoring events unfold. When the fairways are reasonably wide without a ton of rough, pros can turn golf tournaments on those courses into putting and wedge contests. There’s relative impunity off the tee to blast away, meaning the questions are answered on the approach shots. Look at what Dustin Johnson did last week at Kapalua. He made three putts longer than 9 feet all week. All week! He was just hitting everything close, since he was averaging 92 yards on his par-4 approaches. Pitch-and-putt stuff. If the winds kicks up at Waialae, that may be a different story.
You’ll also want to give some preference to players who played last week. Of the last 19 Sony Open winner, 12 played the week prior. It makes sense because they’re better players, and they’ve knocked a little ring rust off.
2018 Sony Open in Hawaii DraftKings picks
Each week, we’ll offer players in 3-5 buckets of pricing so as to offer some mix-and-matching with your lineups based on our recommendations.
Recent PGA Tour Trends
We start by looking at the recent past, back at players who have finished inside the top 15 in the last five individual PGA Tour events.
- Beau Hossler – 2 – T-10 Sanderson Farms, T-7 Shriners Open
- Ben Silverman – 2 – T-7 Sanderson Farms, T-8 RSM Classic
- Brian Harman – 3 – T-8 WGC-HSBC Champions, T-4 RSM Classic, 3rd Tournament of Champions
- Charles Howell III – 2 – T-15 WGC-HSBC Champions, 4th OHL Classic
- JJ Spaun – 3 – T-10 Shriners Open, T-14 OHL Classic, 2nd RSM Classic
- Nicholas Lindheim – 2 – T-7 Sanderson Farms, T-13 RSM Classic
- Patton Kizzire – 4 – T-10 Sanderson Farms, T-4 Shriners Open, WIN OHL Classic, T-15 Tournament of Champions
Event Finish History
Here are the players who finished in the top 15 at this event multiple times in the last five years:
- Brian Gay – 3
- Brian Harman – 2
- Charles Howell III – 4
- Chris Kirk – 2
- Gary Woodland – 3
- Harris English – 3
- Hudson Swafford – 3
- Jamie Lovemark – 2
- Jimmy Walker – 3
- Justin Thomas – 2
- Kevin Kisner – 2
- Marc Leishman – 2
- Russell Henley – 2
- Russell Knox – 2
- Ryan Palmer – 2
- Scott Piercy – 3
- Sean O’Hair – 2
- Webb Simpson – 3
- Zach Johnson – 3
DraftKings salaries change from week to week, depending on field strength and size, as well a player’s recent record and their history on a course. It’s in looking at how a salary changes over time that we might get some clues as to players that could be a little overrated or underrated.
Here’s the list of players in the field playing at least $1,500 over their 2016-17 average salary for the final 10 events (ranked least to most over average salary):
- William McGirt
- Si Woo Kim
- Zach Johnson
- Xander Schauffele
- Charles Howell III
- Russell Henley
- Kevin Kisner
- Cameron Smith
- Justin Thomas
- Brian Harman
- Marc Leishman
Here are the players playing this week with multiple top-15 finishes in the last five PGA Tour events that are playing AT OR BELOW their average salary from the final 10 events of the 2016-17 season:
- Nicholas Lindheim
2018 Sony Open in Hawaii DraftKings recommendations
$10,000 and up
We have five players in this group, and they’re all great picks for one reason or another. However, in terms of value, I think you have to look at Marc Leishman and Kevin Kisner. Jordan Spieth at $12,000 is just too much. With Leishman and Kisner, you get great course records and styles of course that seem to fit their method. Leishman is the best value in this group because he was in contention last week, and he’s on a career-best trajectory.
We have 14 players in this group, and the high end here is Webb Simpson and Zach Johnson. If you want to pack up these guys together, I think that’s a worthwhile look. Or maybe Johnson and Leishman, then search for some value at the bottom end. Simpson is concerning because it’s his first start since his father’s passing.
Jamie Lovemark is an awesome play at $8,100 given he’s been on the precipice of a win for a while now, and he likes this event. Charles Howell III is at $8,800, and that honestly feels like a value given his Luke-Donald-at-Harbour-Town record here.
DraftKings basically broke the rest of the field in half at the $7,000 mark. There are 65 players valued in this range and the rest below $7,000, which is mostly Web.com Tour grads who haven’t done well so far or veterans who are clinging.
Gary Woodland stands out as a solid choice at $7,800. He’s top 60 in the world, and you didn’t know that til I told you. Sneaky good finishes, and he likes here for some reason bewildering to me.
Wesley Bryan intrigues me at $7,400. His driving problem (length and accuracy) isn’t a huge killer here, and his short game is a big plus here. Missed the cut last year with 70-70–140.
Sean O’Hair would be a fun gamble at the same price point. Played just once in the fall, then won the old Shark Shootout with Steve Stricker. Good history here, and he seems to like these old-school courses.
Peter Uihlein at $7,700 seems too low. Way too low. Either the oddsmakers/DraftKings knows something we don’t, or this is a glaring error. Uihlein was great in the fall.
Beau Hossler at $7,000 also seems suspiciously low. Love him to make the cut as seven of his 10 weekday rounds are in the 60s. His weekends are not great yet.
We’re looking for bargains in this range with a threat to top-10.
Ryan Armour is $6,900 and doesn’t make a ton of mistakes. Practically nothing went in for him at Kapalua. If anything does at Waialae, he could contend.
Harold Varner III could be a worthwhile option at $6,700, particularly if the winds kick up. Seemed to like that in his two Aussie PGA starts.